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Japanese scientists find a genetic basis for gout

JIJI

Researchers have identified a genetic predisposition for gout that puts certain people at a greater risk of contracting the painful condition.

Analyses of genes of 1,600 Japanese male gout patients and 1,300 healthy Japanese men found a heightened risk among people with gene variations that weaken the ability of the kidney and intestinal tract to release uric acid, the researchers said.

The finding was announced in the online version of British journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The team included Hirotaka Matsuo, a lecturer at the National Defense Medical College, Ken Yamamoto, a professor at Kurume University, and Hirofumi Nakaoka, a researcher at the National Institute of Genetics.

It may become possible develop personalized treatment for gout patients depending on analysis of DNA from a blood sample, Matsuo said.

Gout, which causes strong pain in joints, occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood. Uric acid is generated as a result of cellular metabolism and is produced from purines from ingested foods and drinks.

Gout is also known to increase the risks of cerebral vessel and cardiac diseases.

Recent studies have found that gout results not only from eating habits and obesity but also from deterioration in the functions to release uric acid from the body.

In 2009, Matsuo and others discovered a gene called ABCG2, which plays an important role in the release of uric acid through the intestinal tract.

The latest research found that problems with this gene boost the risk of gout three- to fourfold. Similarly, the gout risk doubles if there are problems with another gene, SLC2A9, tied to the release of uric acid through the kidney, the team reported.